The Great ‘Escape’

Dear Ruby,

Your Daddy and I just finished one of the best weeks of our lives. It began with a fairytale wedding in Utah, continued with an ultra luxurious vacation to Cabo San Lucas and concluded by reuniting me with four of my best friends.

Boarding our flight to Utah, we were embarking on a little getaway to clear our minds, distract us from our loss, and unplug from our reality.

We were escaping.

Usually an escape implies running away, forgetting, or leaving something behind. We were expecting to be able to pause our sadness for a moment. Go somewhere without constant reminders that we lost you. But, our escape proved to be just the opposite and that was just what we needed.

THE WEDDING

Your “Aunt” Shanna got married in Park City on the grounds of her parents’ property. For the last couple months, I’ve heard a lot about beautiful ideas for her big day, but what she put together was unlike anything I had ever experienced.IMG_6972 It was magical. The whimsical setting in the mountains set the tone, her gorgeous dress awed, the flowers stunned (especially her bouquet that was wrapped in a Ruby wristband), the food was decadent, and the music had everyone dancing. And while all of this certainly screams magic, it was the way the weekend festivities connected their loved ones that made it truly special.

It was hard not to notice that the wedding date marked two-months since we lost you, especially as we listened to Shanna’s dad give a heartfelt speech at the reception. He talked about how marriage is made up of experiences that will color their life together.

We watched Shanna dance with her Dad and I thought about how your Daddy will never get to have that experience with you. We’ll never meet your boyfriends. The man of your dreams will never ask our permission to marry you. There will be no wedding speech and no dress shopping. Losing you is an experience we will always wish we never had, but it’s part of our story.

Escaping to this magical wedding and witnessing precious moments between a father and his daughter reminded us that with bad experiences come good ones and together they paint the picture of a beautiful, complicated life; one that we are lucky enough to lead till death do us part.
photo 4

THE VACATION

From magical Park City, we took an early morning flight to Cabo San Lucas for four nights of R&R, but first, we had a short layover in San Jose. IMG_0631 As we exited the tarmac, the first thing we saw was a Ruby Tuesday right in front of our gate. Thank you for giving us that little sign that you were with us on our trip.

We arrived at our villa a little after 2pm and were greeted by Antonio, our private concierge, who had margaritas, fresh guacamole and ceviche waiting for us. The view outside the patio door was out of a dream. The private pool and hot tub sat overlooking the Sea of Cortez. The water was so blue – I wish you could have seen it. We were in awe and overwhelmed. This would be a once in a lifetime trip.

Over the next few days, we basked in the warm Mexico sun, read books, cooled off in the pool, took naps, ate delicious food, drove around in a golf cart, drank refreshing cocktails, stargazed, listened to music, got lost in our own thoughts and in between, we talked about you.
photo (15)

Every time we considered ourselves lucky to be there, we couldn’t help but remember the price we paid to have those experiences. The only reason we were enjoying dinners along the Mexican coast was because we weren’t rocking you to sleep. The only reason we were drinking wine with our feet in the hot tub was because we weren’t watching you learn to roll onto your tummy.

On our last day in Mexico, we had lunch at the resort. We told our waiter, Sergio, that we had a wonderful time and were sad to be leaving paradise. His response really stuck with me.

“The thing about all of this? It’s temporary. San Diego…that’s real life.”

No matter where we go in the world, we will never escape thoughts of you. Truthfully, we would never want to. But, the funny thing about escaping is that it makes it easier to connect with, accept, and appreciate what awaits you when you return to your reality. Escaping gives you the clarity you need to be present. Thanks to the incredible generosity of your family who made the trip possible, we returned to San Diego refreshed and aware. We feel lucky to have had that opportunity.

THE REUNION

Leaving paradise is never easy, except when you know that four of your best friends will be joining you for a reunion when you get home. We had a whole itinerary set for the weekend: fish tacos, hikes, acai bowls, the beach, downtown, a brewery – I was going to show them the best San Diego had to offer.

I’m calling it a reunion because we haven’t seen each other in over a year, but really, they were coming to rescue me.

photo (17)Your “Aunt” Chelsea, “Aunt” Nancy, “Aunt” Susie, and “Aunt” Trotta have been like sisters to me for over ten years. For 38 Tuesdays, they received Snapchats of my growing baby belly. I gave them the down and dirty about pregnancy and shared with them my excitement to be your mom. They made sure you would be a fashionista in adorable IU tutus, designer onesies, swim suits, and jean bloomers. They loved you and everything you represented. When you passed away, they were heartbroken and like so many others, desperate to help.

Last week, they showed up with their Ruby red toenails ready to shower your Daddy and I with all the love and support we could stand. As we checked activities off the itinerary, they wore their Ruby red wristbands and it made me proud, but the best part of the trip happened when they “met” you.

I won’t say much about that visit, only because it meant so much to me, but the five of us have been through a lot together. I’ve always known that they love me, but as we sat in a circle around your grave, I hope you felt their love for you.

You have changed lives across the world, Ruby. Your spirit lives on in so many people and I am lucky enough to bear witness to it everyday. You brought my best friends to San Diego. You compel old friends and acquaintances to reach out with promises to appreciate heartbeats. You inspire complete strangers to lead meaningful lives. You have helped your Daddy and I understand how much we are loved. All of this and more keeps our hearts full and hopeful.

*******

In many ways, our great escapes over the last week have brought us back to life. We are able to appreciate experiences that color our lives, we feel more present and grounded in reality, and above all else, we were reminded that we are truly not alone in all of it.

Until our next escape – I love you Rubsicle,
Mom

There’s a First Time for Everything

Dear Ruby,

I’ve been back at work now for almost two full weeks. It’s a strange feeling to have to reintegrate into the “real” world. I anticipated that it would be hard, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for leaving the safe bubble of home. At least I’m not alone.

From the moment my co-workers found out that we lost you and everyday since, they have been by my side – like family. To have that kind of support in a professional setting is rare and for that, I am so lucky. Even so, for six weeks I spent 100% of my energy taking care of myself, thinking about you and trying to come to terms with our loss. I immersed myself in the sadness and the grief and it became familiar…something I could count on. Having to suddenly re-focus that energy has been a shock to the system. How was I going to make myself care about anything but you?

The hardest part? The realization that the world didn’t stop, but continued on, business as usual, while our world crumbled. This seems obvious, but I think experiencing it first hand made your passing all the more real. It brought to the surface the understanding that we were entering a new reality – one that you wouldn’t be a part of the way we hoped – and my heart broke all over again.

That first day of work was just the beginning of many “firsts”.

band#1: Your Daddy and I went on our “first” date six weeks after losing you. Our intention was to have a fun and relaxing night out to celebrate my positive postpartum check-up. We got dressed up and walked over to Craftsman, one of our favorite local restaurants. The hostess was able to seat us immediately, a tiny table tucked away in the back, squeezed between two other tables. The moment I rounded the corner, I spotted him. A newborn baby boy in the arms of his grandma. From where my seat was, I could have reached out and touched him. My stomach turned and my eyes swelled with tears. We ordered a bottle of wine because there was no way we were making it through this dinner without a drink. Your Daddy asked if I wanted to leave and I shook my head, no. Instead, I asked the woman how old he was.

“Six weeks,” she said. “He was a premie, so he’s only 6 lbs, 5 oz.”

I froze. Six weeks old…6 lbs, 5 oz? What are the chances that on our first time out since losing you we would sit next to a newborn who was not only the same age as you, but your EXACT birth weight?!? His name was Jackson and he was another one of your little signs.

#2: We celebrated the 4th of July with your aunts, uncles, cousins, Bubba and Grampa Dave. It was our “first” big holiday without you. As I played with your adorable cousins and friend, Liv, it brought me so much joy and simultaneous sadness. I love all three of them as if they were my own children, but I found myself day-dreaming, as I had so many times before, about what it would have been like to watch all of you play together. My Facebook newsfeed was flooded with adorable pictures of my friends’ babies dressed to the nines in red, white and blue. It was the first of many holidays that we would celebrate without you and the entire day just felt like one big reminder of all the “firsts” we wouldn’t get to have with you. Watching the fireworks later that night, I finally let myself cry. You would never get to see those beautiful, colorful explosions in the sky and I was overcome by how unfair it all was.

surf#3: Your Daddy and I went surfing for the “first” time last weekend. It is something we’ve talked about doing for five years, ever since we moved to California. When you died, I promised you that I would live fully in your honor, so it was time we made it happen. There’s something about being in the ocean that really makes you feel alive. While I don’t see myself becoming a professional surfer anytime soon, I was appreciative for the opportunity to embark on a new adventure in your honor.

There will be a first time for everything as we continue to move through our grief. It will be sad and we will wonder why it had to be this way. We will feel envious of those around us who get to experience a lifetime of “firsts” WITH their children, as opposed to without. But, for every “first” that drives us deeper into mourning, we promise to balance it out with one that reminds us we’re alive.

We miss you everyday.

I love you,
Mom